A group calling itself the Ashanti Youth for Development, has accused government of unfairly treating Exton Cubic Group in its effort to begin mining activities at Nyinahini in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region.
It observed as shocking attempts by some unseen hands in government to thwart efforts by the company to engage in what is lawful which will directly and indirectly open up job avenues for the youth in the area.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the group registered its displeasure over happenings appealing to government not through its actions confirm that it is only aiding foreign companies to the detriment of the indigenous ones
“We wish to register our shock and disbelief at the recent treatment meted out to Exton Cubic Ltd, a fully-owned Ghanaian company. The Ashanti Youth for Development is completely astounded by how functionaries of this government have gone to great and desperate lengths to ensure that Exton Cubic is denied the right to access its legally and rightfully acquired bauxite concession in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve. The decision of the government and its functionaries only goes to confirm our earlier stance that the government of Ghana has unbridled and indecent penchant of aiding foreign multinational mining firms to extract our natural resources for the betterment of foreigners at the expense of the Ghanaian people”
Press conference by Ashanti Youth for Development (AYD)
For Immediate Release:
“Government must protect the interest of Ghanaians in mining at all material times”!
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the press. We wish to welcome you all to the maiden press conference of the Ashanti Youth for Development (AYD). We are a group that comprises all progressive youth of Asanteman whose preoccupation is the development and forward-match of the Ashanti Region. Our main objective is to help propel the rapid development of the region by providing good alternatives to development policies through positive feedback and constructive criticism of authorities and policies.
Our modus operandi shall involve rigorous and extensive research into development models, public policy and other areas of our national economy. This exercise shall form the fulcrum of our knowledge-based think-thank that will change the paradigm of development of our beloved Ashanti Region which in our estimation should be better-off than what pertains today. This press conference will therefore be the first in a series of media engagements to present our policy stance on burning issues relating to the good of the Ashanti Region.
Ladies and gentlemen, the focus of today’s engagement is on Ghana’s mining and extractive industry with critical lenses on the matters arising from the fight against small-scale mining, regulation of mining activities and the activities of multinational mining companies in the Ashanti Region.
The fight against small scale mining and matters arising
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, Ashanti Youth for Development (AYD) wishes to commend the President’s resolve to end the menace of illegal mining. Having said this, AYD is of the view that the recent public outcry that has greeted the activities of small-scale mining in the country, and the subsequent knee-jerk and fire-fighting war on small scale mining has only reinforced the age-old problem of successive governments. More often, efforts to solve a problem in this country only tend to focus on scratching the surface of it, rather than uprooting it from the roots.
It is our reckoning that the militarized approach adopted by His Excellency President Akufo Addo towards small scale mining leaves much to be desired of, considering the fact that small scale miners are hardworking citizens of Ghana whose contribution to the national economy cannot be underestimated. This panic approach of the President in our estimation is a deliberate attempt to collapse small scale mining and inflict hardship on several millions of Ghanaians who depend on small scale mining.
Members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, small scale mining, like any other economic activity, is bound to generate some adverse environmental impact. However, the fact that factories and other manufacturing industries generate carbon emissions that threaten the climate has not resulted in a total ban on manufacturing.
Rather, measures are often taken to reduce carbon emission and encourage green revolutions. In the same vein, using brutal force to stop small scale mining, whilst paying complete lip service to providing alternative livelihoods to the numerous youth, their families and other dependents whose livelihood is hinged on small scale mining is a complete exhibition of bad faith and callousness on the part of this government.
Economic benefits of Small Scale Mining
We all do know that across the forest belt of Ghana, small scale mining exists in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Central and Western regions. Without doubt, the local economy of small scale mining is therefore huge.
Notwithstanding the perceived negative effects of small scale mining, it offers substantial incomes, ancillary jobs and livelihoods to many across these five regions.
It is now obvious that the campaign rhetoric of His Excellency the President has been clearly contradicted by his handling of small scale mining thus far. Whilst on the campaign trail in 2016, the President promised to regularize the small scale mining sector. However, the evidence of his fight so far contradicts this promise. Instead, the President is currently waging a war that has thrown many out of work, maimed and killed many, and thrown many communities into despair.
Young people who have contracted bank loans to invest in small scale mining have run into huge indebtedness. The local economies of most of these communities have also been destroyed. In the Amansie area in the Ashanti Region for instance, rural banks which employ a lot of people are collapsing and virtually folding up because they now receive very low deposits. These rural banks are now compelled to lay off a lot of workers because their fortunes have plummeted considerably.
It is estimated that 8 rural banks will collapse, whilst over 7000 fuel attendants have lost their jobs due to the collapse of small scale mining.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, Total number of small scale miners in Ghana as at 2016 stands at one million people. In terms of contribution to GDP, total gold production by small scale miners in 1989 was 2% of GDP whilst in 2015, contribution to GDP was 34% and 31% in 2016.
In the year 2016 as well, Toyota Ghana recorded its highest sales in Africa as a result of high purchase of its vehicles by small scale miners. At the recent National Delegates Conference of the NPP in Cape Coast, the President stated that cocoa contributes about $2 billion to GDP, whilst smuggled gold was worth $7 billion in 2016.
This is ample testimony to the fact that a well-functioning small scale mining sector would substantially boost Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product and prevent the needless capital flight from the country. Aside these, small scale miners have provided social amenities such as toilets, boreholes, CHPS compounds among others for several mining communities, which eases the pressure on the government.
The President’s promise to regularize small scale mining has not materialized, and he has not shown any commitment to doing so. Even his new promise to provide alternative livelihoods and skills training has become an empty rhetoric. Evidence on the ground in many mining communities shows clear political bias and discrimination in selecting people for skills training.
To make matters worse, we can state authoritatively that Chinese illegal miners have found their way back into the forests in parts of the Ashanti Region to engage in the same mining activity for which the “Operation Vanguard” force of the President have killed and maimed many innocent Ghanaians. Our laws (PNDC Law 218) completely frown on the involvement of foreigners in small-scale mining. It is
therefore an insult to our people to see Chinese and other nationals flout our laws with impunity whilst Ghanaians are being victimized for exercising their birthright.
Government’s unbridled favoritism of Multinational mining companies in Ghana
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, the Ashanti Youth for Development (AYD) like many Ghanaians feels shortchanged and scandalized by the manner in which huge multinationals have been aided by government to plunder our natural resources at the expense of the good of the Ghana. The unbridled penchant for giving huge mining concessions to foreign multinational companies such as Anglogold, Newmont among others, has over the years proven to be more detrimental to the interest of Ghanaians and the environment than the so-called effects of small scale mining. We are all aware of the fact that natural resources such as gold, bauxite, oil among others are non-renewal. As such, the only way the extraction of such natural gems can inure to the benefit of the Ghanaian people is when proper contractual and Corporate Social Responsibility requirements are fulfilled to benefit local communities.
However, it is most disheartening to reveal some of the mining agreements that the government of Ghana has entered into with various multinational mining companies over the years. Under our mining laws, government of Ghana has the right to own up to about 20% stake in every multinational mining company. However, this birthright of the Ghanaian people was completely waived to Newmont when the then government signed an agreement with Newmont in 2003. In addition to this rip-off, the government in 2003 also waived the payment of VAT by Newmont. These strange decisions led civil society organizations such as WACAM and the Third World Network to call for a renegotiation of the Newmont agreement. It is also shocking to note that government of Ghana only owns less than 5% royalties in Anglogold, a company that has plundered almost all the gold in Obuasi and other areas of the Ashanti Region. The foreign exchange Retention Agreement of 2006, Act 723 which was passed by the then government legalized capital flight and repatriation of mining proceeds by multinational mining companies in Ghana. Both Newmont and Anglogold have over the years resisted the imposition of windfall tax on them. The recent most scandalous extractive agreement is the paltry 13.75% stake that the Ghanaian people own in the Jubilee oil fields.
Ladies and gentlemen, may we remind all Ghanaians that Anglogold is a South African company whilst Newmont is an American company. Per this logic, it is therefore proper to allow foreigners to plunder our natural resources and give paltry sums in return, whilst the government wants the Ghanaian people to believe that it is ungodly to engage in small scale mining. After almost a decade of mining in both Ghana and South Africa, the contrasting state of development in Obuasi as compared to Johannesburg speaks volumes of how multinational mining has been inimical to the development of Ghana. Today, whilst the government is busy chasing Ghanaian youth out of small scale mining for Chinese and other nationals to take over, we wish to remind the Ghanaian people that China as a country has over 102 types of mineral deposits in over 3000 mine beds with an estimated value of about $100 billion. The big question is why Chinese nationals choose to leave the huge mineral deposits in their own country to be aided by own government to plunder and degrade our natural resources.
Government’s unfair treatment of Exton Cubic Ltd, a fully-owned Ghanaian Company
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we wish to register our shock and disbelief at the recent treatment meted out to Exton Cubic Ltd, a fully-owned Ghanaian company. The Ashanti Youth for Development is completely astounded by how functionaries of this government have gone to great and desperate lengths to ensure that Exton Cubic is denied the right to access its legally and rightfully acquired bauxite concession in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve. The decision of the government and its functionaries only goes to confirm our earlier stance that the government of Ghana has unbridled and indecent penchant of aiding foreign multinational mining firms to extract our natural resources for the betterment of foreigners at the expense of the Ghanaian people.
We wish to put on record that effort to explore the huge bauxite deposits of the Tano-Offin date back to 1922. Since this time, as it has always been the case that only foreign companies have been given the exclusive right to prospect the bauxite in the Tano-Offin. However, all these foreign companies have failed to any make serious inroads in discovering bauxite in commercial quantities in order to build an Integrated Aluminum Industry. This is the first time a Ghanaian company has successfully fulfilled all the legal and statutory obligations of the government of Ghana to undertake bauxite prospecting in the Tano-Offin reserve. Our checks have confirmed that Exton Cubic Ltd has acquired various licenses such as Due Diligence, Prospecting License, Forest Entry Permit and Environmental Permit. In addition to these, Exton Cubic has conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment and Community Engagement at the community.
It is therefore shocking to us that in the face of such compelling evidence, this government and its notable functionaries such as the Ashanti Regional Minister have vowed to deny Exton Cubic Ltd entry to the Tano-Offin reserve to under prospecting, and have consequently seized the company’s equipment. The Ashanti Youth for Development finds the belligerent posture of the Ashanti Regional Minister who is being spurred on by certain elements within the government as very unfortunate. Exton Cubic Ltd is a fully-owned Ghanaian Mining Company with a track record in mining. The company has fulfilled all its obligations so far to both the state and the community, and it’s on course to provide several thousands of jobs to the youth around the Atwima Mponua District and its surroundings should its prospecting activity proves successful.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, we wish to conclude by calling on Nananom, Civil Society, the clergy and all Ghanaians to rise and condemn government’s unfair and heartless treatment of small scale miners. Ghana’s mining laws strictly frown on any involvement of foreigners in small scale mining. We are reliably informed of plans by the government to amend the laws on small scale mining which allows only Ghanaians to acquire such license, to medium scale mining which will create an avenue for foreigners to also obtain such licenses. We will resist any such plans by the government by all lawful means, even at the peril of our very lives. Small scale mining must always remain the preserve of only Ghanaians and as such the Ashanti Youth for Development shall employ all lawful means to bring pressure to bear on the government to abandon its plans to unduly favor foreigners at the expense of hardworking Ghanaians. We wish to also advise the government to stop the needless haunting of indigenous Ghanaian companies which are working so hard to generate employment and provide livelihoods to Ghanaians.
Long live Asanteman!
Long live Ghana!!
Long live AYD!!!
Henry Osei-Akoto Osei Sarfo Kantanka Kwaku Asafo-Agyei
(Convenor) (Secretary) (Communication Officer)
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